Scooterlay is audience-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission that we use for site maintenance. Learn more


ABEC 7 vs ABEC 9: Do ABEC Ratings Even Matter in Skateboarding?

ABEC 7 vs ABEC 9
Written by Brian G Smith

Before we get into the detailed difference between ABEC 7 vs ABEC 9, you need to know if this really matters in the skateboarding scene.

ABEC ratings are more applicable to electronic machinery when a bearing is rolling at a very high RPM e.g. at 100 mph or above. But they are irrelevant at lower bearing rotation rates, such as those found on skateboard wheels.

Also, the bearing quality matters even less for larger wheels. For example, 97mm ABEC 7 wheels will have a better speed than 52mm ABEC 9 wheels. In fact, rather than bearings, your wheels and bushing choice will make a far greater impact on your skating experience.

What’s more, for most industrial uses, loads put on a bearing are radial loads along with forward and backward motions. But axial or side loads are more important for skating because heavy side loads can damage or deform the bearing components.

So, it is clear that the bearing companies are trying to convince you that higher ABEC grades means higher skating speeds, which is not true at all in reality.

What are ABEC Ratings?

The Annular Bearing Engineers Committee (ABEC) recommends bearing ratings based on their precision and tolerance levels. There are 5 classes in total: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9.

The higher the ABEC rating, the tighter the tolerances and the more precise the bearing. But the ABEC rating system only applies to the precision of the bearings themselves and does not take into account other factors, such as the quality of the materials or the type of application.

ABEC 7 vs ABEC 9

There are some differences based on their manufacturing standards though they won’t have any noticeable impact on your performance level.

Category ABEC 7 ABEC 9
Precision Low High
Tolerance Lower Higher
Friction High Less
Speed Less More

The main difference lies in their precision and speed. ABEC 9 bearings are more precise and faster than ABEC 7 bearings. This means that ABEC 9 bearings are capable of achieving higher speeds and smoother rotations, which makes them more suitable for high-performance applications.

Technically, an ABEC 9 bearing will spin faster and last longer than an ABEC 7, but in real-world scenarios where a skateboard is constantly smashed, it will be difficult to tell.

ABEC 9 bearings can achieve higher speed than ABEC 7 because ABEC 9 has less friction, which helps reduce drag.

Other Important Things to Consider Between ABEC 9 vs ABEC 7

1. Materials

Materials of the bearings are more important than ABEC grades.

a) Steel

Steel bearings are the most common type of bearings used in skateboarding. They are affordable, durable, and can provide good performance if maintained properly.

b) Ceramic

Ceramic bearings are more expensive than steel bearings but are known for their durability and smoothness. They can handle higher speeds and are less likely to rust or corrode.

c) Titanium

Titanium bearings are similar to ceramic bearings in terms of their durability and smoothness. They are also lightweight, making them a popular choice for skaters looking to reduce the weight of their setup.

d) Hybrid

Hybrid bearings are a combination of steel and ceramic or titanium materials. They provide the best of both worlds – the durability of steel and the smoothness of ceramic or titanium.

2. Seals & shields

Most bearing seals and shields are made of metal or rubber to protect the bearings and help keep lubricants inside. Some metal seal bearings seals are permanent on one side and portable on the other side so you can keep them clean.

But metal seals are harder to remove and clean than rubber ones. On the other hand, metal seals and shields are good for protection whereas rubber shields can damage easily.

3. Balls

Ceramic and steel balls are widely used as bearings where ceramic balls are harder and lighter than steel ones but can crack on high pressures. But both types of balls can take so much heat and still can be in their original form.

On the other hand, steel balls can deform under pressure. For your use, you can choose any one but metal ones can last long on rough use.

4. Ball retainer

Nylon retainers offer less drag and also work well even if it is cracked or deformed. On the other hand, metal (steel or brass) retainers create a little more drag than nylon and create pressure on the balls if cracked or deformed.

5. Lubrication

Some lubes help increase speed and some provide long life with low maintenance. Most bearings use a “light oil” which provides a faster spin but it’s got a problem of slow leaking as the oil is thinner than other oils.

Light oil lubrication needs more maintenance also. But if you are looking for longer life and lower maintenance then “grease’’ based bearings will be a good choice for you.

Could the Same ABEC Rating Bearings Perform Differently?

Yes, it is possible to get different performance levels from the same ABEC-rated bearing in different scenarios.

Suppose you are using a larger and smaller wheel with the same ABEC 7 grade bearing. After some rides, you will find that the larger wheel with 7 grades is moving faster than the smaller one.

On the other hand, take one smaller wheeled board with an ABEC 9 and one larger wheeled board with an ABEC 7. What’s interesting is that even though you’ll use a higher accuracy bearing on the smaller wheel, the faster board will be the one with larger wheels.

What if you have dirty bearings and wheels?

If you are facing speed and smooth riding issues with having the same grade bearing, then you should check your bearings and wheels. Because a dirty bearing and wheels can be slower than a tidy one and also can impact your skateboarding performance.

Old ABEC higher grade bearings vs new ABEC lower grade bearings

This is also a major fact that having an old higher-grade bearing is much less efficient than a new lower-grade bearing. As an example, a new ABEC 7 bearing can give better performance than an old ABEC 9.

About the author

Brian G Smith

“Hey, are you out of your mind?” - this is what I often hear when people see me performing some really dangerous stunts. While most people use scooters to commute, I use mine to hone my stunting skills. Yes, that’s me, Brian Smith. I’ve a small group of like-minded people in my team that love to do all sorts of stunts with their kick scooters and skateboards. My fans also ask me to teach them a thing or two every now and then. This is why I am here. In my leisure time, I like to write about what I do with my scooters and what I am going to do next. One thing I want to say to all my fans - Don’t hit the streets without proper information and training..

Leave a Comment